Nicole Sandquist Expresses Her Heart for Veterans
In October of 2022, Nicole Sandquist, activities coordinator for the Catholic Eldercare Adult Day Program, watched her dad, a Korean War veteran, return home from an Honor Flight to Washington, D.C. “I can’t describe the emotion of it all,” she says. “There was a marching band and families were waving flags to welcome them home with pomp and circumstance, as if they were just returning from the service,” she says. “Then, a few weeks later, our family attended an event where we watched a video of the honor flight trip, and every veteran at that event went home with a hand-made quilt.”
Loving the idea of wrapping a veteran in something made specially for them sent Nicole on a mission to learn more about where the quilts came from. She wanted to find out how she could wrap veterans in the Catholic Eldercare Adult Day Program with the same warmth shown to her father. The journey led her back to Northeast, and the home of Mary Bergersen, the disabled widow of Sgt. Douglas Bergerson.
Mary founded the Mission Project to honor the memory of her military husband’s service. From quilts to care packages, gift cards and more, Mary’s organization provides love and support to veterans. She says, “The most important thing soldiers need from us is to know they are not alone, that people care, and we are here to help and support them.” Nicole agrees. “The recognition touches people,” she says. “It’s a beautiful thing to see.”
During this year’s Veteran’s Day celebration, veterans in the Adult Day Program will receive a hand-made quilt through The Mission Project, made by inmates at the Wabash Valley Correctional Facility in Carlisle, Indiana. But it doesn’t stop there. This year, Nicole has also secured quilts for veterans living in our Albert J. Hofstede Care Center.
Inspired by her dad, Nicole cares deeply for veterans and their service to our country and feels compelled to recognize them, especially now that more veterans are coming into the Adult Day Program. “My colleagues and I honor our Adult Day Program veterans by creating opportunities for them to be recognized, from saying the Pledge of Allegiance in the morning to singing a patriotic song,” Nicole says proudly. “And when they receive a quilt, they get very emotional about it. I’m happy that we can now extend our recognition to veterans in our care center with the 60 quilts that Mary has given us.”
The Mission Project provides a lot of services for veterans, including emergency support with gift cards and the veteran crisis fund. To learn more about how you can support this organization in our neighborhood, go to the Mission Project website.